A second wave of construction on a bike path alongside Business 40 downtown has been approved by the Winston-Salem City Council, with work possibly taking place at the same time as Business 40 roadway improvements in 2020.
The city council recently approved a resolution that authorizes the city manager to enter into a contract with the N.C. Department of Transportation for construction of parts of the bike path alongside Business 40 from Green Street to the Strollway.
The full pathway, when finished, will connect Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center to downtown on a route that makes it possible for bicycle riders to get downtown without having to tackle the big hills on First Street or Glade Avenue. City transportation officials believe it will encourage more people to commute by biking.
“The way the Business 40 path ties in with the Strollway and Green Street, it means those neighborhoods will have nice access to downtown and Old Salem,” said Matthew Burczyk, who handles bike transportation planning for the city. “It really ties everything together.”
Business 40 is scheduled for a major do-over starting with the reworking of the Peters Creek Parkway interchange, which starts later this year and wraps up in the fall of 2018. After that is done, Business 40 will close for reconstruction between Peters Creek Parkway and U.S. 52, the work involving the replacement of all bridges and the improvement of off- and on-ramps. The entire road reopens in 2020.
City officials want as much as they can to build the bike path at the same time work on Business 40 proceeds.
Sections of the path had already been made part of the Business 40 construction plans. They include a portion of the pathway that will cross Peters Creek Parkway from south to north, then pass through a tunnel leading under the parkway near BB&T Ballpark. As part of the same project, a portion of the pathway near Brookstown Avenue is to be built.
The more recently approved sections from Green Street to the Strollway carry a $2 million price tag, but the city only has to pay about $400,000 to get the remaining $1.6 million from the N.C. Department of Transportation as part of the draft 2018-27 state transportation plan. Although that plan doesn’t get passed until June, the bike path work scored well in the planning process.
Slated for construction in 2021 in the state transportation plan, the city is asking the state to move forward the Green Street-Strollway work to 2020 so that it fits the Business 40 timetable.
Even the newly approved sections will still leave a segment unfunded between Green Street and the ballpark. Also, there’s no money yet for the path leading west from Peters Creek Parkway toward Lockland Avenue.
Assistant City Manager Greg Turner said that while there’s no money yet for the missing segments, the city can pursue grants or possibly include the project on a 2018 bond issue.
Council Member Robert Clark questioned the good of the project, saying he had doubts about how much it would get used:
“I have never seen a community put a sidewalk beside an interstate,” Clark said. “I can’t think of a place where I would rather not walk than an interstate.”
Council Member Dan Besse, who chairs the city’s public works committee, defended the pathway as one that will be used mainly by people on bikes. Clark was the only council member voting against the proposal.
Burczyk said the city hopes to eventually connect the Business 40 path to another north-south bike path being built in the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter. That path is to be linked to the Salem Creek Greenway, so when everything is put together, he said, “all of a sudden you have a connection from Baptist through to Salem Lake.”
“To have that kind of connectivity is our goal,” Burczyk said.